Archive: March, 2009
Joe Mammana, the urban egg farmer and self-styled crime fighter, was sentenced today to eight years in federal court for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and tax evasion.
U.S. District Justice Paul Diamond said he took into consideration Mammana's cooperation with federal investigators looking into City Councilman Jack Kelly's office. You can read more about all that here. Mammana had faced a prison term of seven and a half years to nine and a half years. He has already served more than two years in custody.
Mammana, who was active in the Citizens Crime Commission, said he realized that tax evasion is not a victim-less crime. “Greed and stupidity took control," Mammana said. "And that’s a really bad combination. I hurt a lot of people." As for the Crime Commission, Mammana added: “I embarrassed it and I apologize to them.”
Diamond rejected requests from Mammana's attorney to put less emphasis on his 20-year criminal history, which includes conviction for aggravated assault, theft, forgery and dealing steroids. “I think your client has a horrendous criminal history," Diamond told Mammana's attorneys.
Mayor Nutter announced this afternoon that Michael DiBerardinis, a top state official who once served as the city recreation commissioner, will take the helm of the newly merged department of parks and recreation.
The appointment was first reported in the Inky today.
"I love this park system. And I think having recreation opportunities for kids and those who are young at heart is the cernterpice of what the city is supposed to be," Nutter said. "I could think of no better person to do that than Mike DiBerardinis."
DiBerardinis is leaving his post as the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary to take on the job. He spent eight years as the city's recreation commissioner under Mayor Rendell, expanding programs and revitalizing city parks, playgrounds and pools.
Nutter said DiBerardinis will oversee the merging of the two departments, which is scheduled to be complete by July 1. He starts work on April 6.
The new 3-1-1 non-emergency call line could take a hit if Managing Director Camille Barnett has to make major budget cuts. But Barnett said she’ll fight to keep the program alive.
Yesterday, the city released information on how the Managing Director would cut 10, 20 and 30 percent out of her office. Barnett oversees the 3-1-1 line launched at the end of last year. Currently, 3-1-1 is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has an annual budget of more than $2 million.
Attendees at some of the budget workshops questioned whether the city should spend on 3-1-1 during a tough economic period.
Here’s how 3-1-1 would fare if the Managing Director’s budget was cut:
- At a 10 percent reduction, three staffers would be cut from the walk-in center, saving $75,000.
- At a 20 percent reduction, 3-1-1 hours would be cut to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Four staffers would lose their jobs. That would save an additional $227,668.
It's been a long time since we've seen an press release from Councilwoman Joan Krajewski. But she let it rip today, bashing the city for considering a plan to charge citizens a $5 fee for trash collection.
Too bad she didn't know the city has already given up on the $5 fee idea. Oops.
Here's the release:
Krajewski wants to bag trash collection charge
City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski thinks the proposed idea to charge Philadelphians $5 per week for trash collection deserved to be put out on the curb with the rest of the garbage.
“The people of my district, the people of Northeast Philadelphia, they don’t call 9-1-1 all the time for the police department, or the ambulance or the fire department,” she explained. “But the one thing they want, and the one thing they expect and deserve from the City is trash pick-up.”
Joe Mammana, an urban egg farmer and self-styled crime fighter, is due to be sentenced in federal court later this afternoon. Mammana played an important, if unseen, role in the federal corruption trial that ended last month in the conviction of City Councilman Jack Kelly’s former chief of staff and two political allies. Prosecutors have declined so far to say if they will ask a judge to go light on Mammana because he helped in that case.
Mammana was arrested by the feds in November 2006 for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charges were soon updated to include tax evasion. Mammana, who pleaded guilty in March 2007 and has been in custody since then, granted two interviews that year to FBI agents as part of a “proffer agreement,” an attempt to swap information for leniency in court. Mammana told the FBI he had given thousands of dollars in cash to Kelly for political purposes, according to federal documents obtained by the Daily News.
Kelly’s attorney denies that. But everyone agrees the FBI showed up in Kelly’s doorstep early one morning in June 2007, saying they were looking into Mammana’s claims and asking for help in an investigation of Chris Wright, Kelly's chief of staff. Kelly immediately agreed to help the feds record a phone conversation with Wright that day and a face-to-face meeting two days later with Ravinder Chawla, one of his most generous campaign contributors.
Wright, Chawla and Andy Teitelman, Kelly’s one-time campaign treasurer, were convicted last month on federal corruption charges. Kelly, who testified during the trial, told Chawla’s defense attorney he offered to help the feds to “get to the bottom” of allegations about his office. There was a political component to that decision as well.
“You have to remember that I was in a very, very tough re-election campaign,” Kelly testified. “Any hint of scandal would have been absolutely devastating to my campaign.”
Busy day up in City Council. Here's another dispatch from Chris Brennan:
Ten members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ are in the audience in City Council chambers with signs protesting cuts in salary by the private company that provides security guards at city homeless shelters.
"I'm out of work. Thanks Mayor Nutter," one sign says.
"Can you live on $9 an hour, Mayor Nutter?" another sign asks.
"Don't cut the budget on my family's back," a third sign says.
Union members plan to protest here in City Hall after Council's session and then deliver a letter to the mayor's office.
From Chris Brennan:
Philadelphia Media Holding's recent bankruptcy filing is causing City Council to reconsider its Charter-mandated requirement that public notices on hearings and other issues be advertised in three newspapers with paid circulation.
Councilman Darrell Clarke is about to introduce legislation that could lead to a ballot question in May's primary election, asking voters to give Council more flexibility in how to advertise public business.
Clarke told reporters the uncertainty in the media market means Council needs to be able to advertise meetings on the Internet and in free newspapers. Council already posts its calendar of meetings and hearings on its web site but is not required by law to do so.
"We need that flexibility," said Clarke, adding that Council may never need to act on changing how it advertises. "Who knows? We may never need it."
This just dropped in our inbox. We'll keep you posted:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAYOR NUTTER TO MAKE MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT AT CITY HALL TODAY
2pm, Mayor’s Reception Room
WHO: Mayor Michael A. Nutter
WHERE: City Hall, Mayor’s Reception Room, Room 202
WHEN: Thursday March 05, 2009 2:00 pm
More in the Daily News investigation into a cop accused of paying informants and lying in search warrants used to enter suspected drug houses.
Raising taxes or fees is a possibility as the city figures out how to close a budget gap.
Ronnie Polaneczky writes about an effort to reopen two indoor pools that were shut in January due to budget cuts.
Jurors begin deliberations today in the corruption trial of former state Sen. Vince Fumo.
City is expanding a home buying program.
Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler said the city has revised their ideas on how to charge a trash fee, based on complaints about their original proposal of a $5 flat fee for every household.
Charging a sanitation fee is one of many ideas the administraion is considering as they figure out how to close a $1 billion budget shortfall over the next five years. Cutler said the city got negative feedback for a flat rate, with many noting that roughly 24 percent of the city lives beneath the poverty line.
"I think we need to do it somewhat incrementally," Cutler said.
So, Cutler said she is now considering charging an annnual base rate per household -- one rate for people below the poverty line and one for everyone else -- as well as a per-bag fee each week. Cutler said the per-bag charges should prompt more free recycling.
"We're expecting the recycling rate to triple and the trash rates to come down," said Cutler, noting that increased recycling would bring down the city's landfill costs and contribute to the mayor's goals of making Philadelphia a greener city.
Mayor Nutter stressed that nothing has been decided yet regarding a trash fee. "At the moment it remains an idea under design and construction," he said.